University of Chicago events planned in honor of Black History Month

Lunch series, fireside chats, documentary screenings, conference are scheduled

Each year Black History Month serves as a reminder for many that there is no American history without the African Americans who have helped to shape it.  

UChicago alum Carter G. Woodson laid the groundwork for what would become Black History Month more than a century ago. A trained historian, he witnessed how Black people were often ignored in the books and teachings that formed the study of U.S. history. In 1915, he and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which promoted studying black history as a discipline and celebrated the accomplishments of African Americans. 

This February, a number of University of Chicago events welcome audiences to engage in conversations about the Black experience in the U.S., highlight contributions by Black policymakers and scholars, and celebrate the Black heroes and hidden figures throughout history. 

Feb. 1: Lunch and book discussion 

The Divinity School will host a lunch event featuring books chosen by Divinity School students regarding topics around Black religion, Black life and Black culture. Attendees will have the opportunity to socialize and receive copies of the following (learn more here): 

  • The New Jim Crow  by Michelle Alexander 
  • The Fire Next Time  by James Baldwin  
  • From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor 
  • Enfleshing Freedom  by M. Shawn Copeland   
  • Singing in My Soul: Black Gospel Music in a Secular Age, by Jerma A. Jackson  

Feb. 1: Fireside chat with Toni Preckwinkle 

Toni Preckwinkle, AB’69, MAT’77, the president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, will join the Harris School of Public Policy for a conversation about Black joy, life on the South Side of Chicago, and the ordinary and extraordinary figures that we celebrate during Black History Month. Register here. 

Feb. 2-22: Lunch conversations 

The Divinity School’s lunch series will continue with several featured speakers:  

  • Feb. 2: Eboni Marshall Turman, associate professor of theology and African American religion at Yale Divinity School  
  • Feb. 9: Larycia Hawkins, assistant professor of politics and religious studies at the University of Virginia 
  • Feb. 14: Braxton Shelley, MDiv’17, PhD’17, associate professor of music, of sacred music and of divinity at the Yale Divinity School  
  • Feb. 22: Nyle Fort, assistant professor of African American and African diaspora studies at Columbia University 
  • March 2: Jeremy Williams, assistant professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University

Learn more about the speakers on the Divinity School website

Feb. 8-22: UChicago Association of Black Alumni events

The University of Chicago Association of Black Alumni affinity program is hosting a virtual series of events for Black History Month, featuring a variety of subjects and speakers. All events are free and open to all UChicago alumni, students, staff and friends of the University.

  • Feb. 8: Black Community Impact: A conversation on meaningful community change in Chicago that improves people's quality of life. The moderator is UCABA board member Calvin Cottrell, AB'18, director of Community Outreach and Public Safety for Chicago's 44th Ward, and the speakers are Dion Dawson, founder of Dion's Chicago Dream, Jahmal Cole, founder and CEO of My Block My Hood My City, and Sandi Robinson, co-founder of Chi Gives Back. Register here
  • Feb. 15: Black Wealth & Investment: A conversation on access to and building wealth with moderator Amber Bradley Williams, associate director of the Polsky Center's New Venture Challenge, and speakers Tessa Flippin, founder and managing partner of Capitalise VC, Shanda McFadden, assistant vice president of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and Chooki Arinze, PhD'22, co-founder of Kaoshi. Register here
  • Feb. 22: Black Mental Health: A conversation about the importance of mental health in the Black community. The moderator is UCABA board member John Ellis, MD'82 Anesthesiology, an entrepreneur, and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Miami, and the speakers are Antonio Wheeler, AM'17, founder of Anchored in Wellness, and Shaniqua Ford, AM'18, founder of Soul Werk Cafe. Register here

Feb. 15: Discussion with Black mayors  

The Institute of Politics will host a discussion, “Welcome to the Mosaic: The Rise of Black Mayors in American Cities,” which will feature Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and former Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins. 

The talk will be led by former IOP Pritzker Fellow and former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Register here.  

Feb. 16: Screening of the documentary Madan Sara  

The Pearson Institute will host a screening of the documentary film Madan Sara, which tells the stories of the women known as Madan Sara in Haiti. Despite facing intense hardship and social stigma, the Madan Sara work to make Haiti’s economy run as they dream for a more just Haiti.

The event also will include and a conversation with the film’s director, Etant Dupain. Register here. 

Feb. 18: The 38th Annual DuSable Conference 

Started in 1985, the DuSable Conference is one of the longest-running conferences led by students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

This year’s conference, “Black Ingenuity: Lifting Our Community as We Climb,” will provide a platform for the African American community to glean insights from people who have had a profound impact in business and service nationally and globally. Register here.

Feb. 21: Screening and discussion 

The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice and WBEZ and WTTW will host a screening of the The Big Payback, which tells the story of Robin Rue Simmons, a council member in Evanston, who led the passage of the first tax-funded reparations for Black Americans. Following the film’s screening, there will be a community conversation. Register here

Feb. 23: Gallery night at Harris 

The public is invited to a gallery night at the Harris School of Public Policy featuring local artists and food catered from local, Black-owned businesses. Register here. 

Feb. 24: Fireside chat with John W. Rogers Jr. 

The Harris School of Public Policy will welcome John W. Rogers Jr., Lab’76, founder of Ariel Investments and a UChicago Trustee, for a fireside chat. 

Prof. Katherine Baicker, the dean of Harris, will lead the conversation, which will highlight the themes of patience and resilience that Rogers attributes to his success—not only as an investor, but also as a public servant. Rogers and Baicker will look to the ways that values-based investing impacts the public sphere and makes way for more successful, equitable communities. Register here

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